SNC’s watershed evaluation reveals stressed conditions in forest and water natural resources

South Nation Conservation (SNC) recently produced its State of the Nation Watershed Report Card providing assessments on forest cover, wetland cover and water resources in the area.

Encompassing 4,384 km2 of Eastern Ontario, the SNC jurisdiction provides invaluable natural resources to parts of the City of Ottawa, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and United Counties of Prescott and Russell. From headwaters north of Brockville, the South Nation River flows northeast for 175 km, and empties into the Ottawa River near Plantagenet.

SNC regularly assesses and creates report cards on various subwatersheds to help prioritize stewardship activities and help with planning and development reviews.

The regional forest cover in the SNC jurisdiction in 2014 was 28%, with forest cover being the lowest in the central region of the watershed. Environment and Climate Change Canada recommends a minimum 30% forest cover to help reduce flooding and erosion, filter air and water, provide wildlife habitat, and support aquatic systems at a watershed scale.

It is also recommended that 75% of stream length be naturally vegetated on both sides (i.e. the riparian area).

“At only 22%, our programs and projects need to take a renewed focus on increasing riparian cover,” explained Katherine Watson, SNC’s Water Resources Specialist.

The Watershed enjoys a strong wetland cover rating at 17%, providing natural flood management during peak flows and water retention reservoirs during dry weather. “Wetlands also filter pollutants and provide important wildlife habitat,” Watson noted.

As for water conditions, areas of poor surface water quality typically had low forest cover especially along the banks of rivers, leading to a loss of filtration, erosion control and habitat.

“We rely on nature for multiple benefits for both a healthy, productive environment and healthy people,” added Watson.

Residents can help improve the health of the Watershed by participating in SNC’s tree planting program, Woodlot Advisory Service, land donation program, and the SNC Clean Water Program which offers subsidies for landowners for projects that help improve water quality.

To read the full report visit: http://www.nation.on.ca/water/reports/watershed-report-cards

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Katherine Watson, 1-877-984-2948 ext. 291, [email protected].

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